Curriculum Overview

The Freshman Year


Students may choose to begin Global Liberal Studies in New York or at NYU in Florence, London, or Paris.*  During the freshman year, students examine the world’s major cultural traditions and the ways in which they are connected through six core courses: Writing I and II, Cultural Foundations and Social Foundations; additional courses depend on the site where they begin.  Students participate in small, discussion-based classes that encourage them to think in new and different ways and advance their communication and writing skills.  All LS courses are writing-intensive.

*For additional information about the Freshman year abroad program, please go to the Study Away pages here.

GLS Freshman Year in Florence
GLS Freshmen may choose to spend a year living and studying at La Pietra, NYU’s breathtaking 57-acre estate in Florence, Italy. Sir Harold Acton, a patron of the arts, bequeathed the amazing property that overlooks the city from a hillside to the University in 1994. On the grounds are five villas, containing residences for students and faculty, classrooms, computer labs, study lounges, and dining and exercise facilities. Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a unique place in which to begin a humanistic education, and the experience of living and learning in Italy is an exciting way to start an undergraduate degree program. La Pietra is the home of a major international student community. Students from all over the world and from NYU’s campus in New York are engaged in learning at all levels. The academic program in Florence includes visits to many important museums and historic sites in the region.

GLS Freshman Year at NYU in London
As a world capital of banking, insurance, commerce, design, and theatre, London is a cosmopolitan city, home to institutions of global importance, including the London Stock Exchange, the Tate Modern, and the British Museum. GLS Freshmen who select the London program have the opportunity to begin their liberal arts education while exploring the city’s centuries-old historic landmarks and its contemporary wonders.

GLS Freshman Year at NYU in Paris
Incoming freshmen to Global Liberal Studies have the  opportunity to study at NYU in Paris. Known as the City of Light, Paris is one of the most captivating cities in Europe. The Eiffel Tower, the symbol of the city, dominates the skyline. On the north bank of the Seine, the Right Bank (Rive Droite) is home to monumental buildings, grand boulevards, and major museums, including the Louvre, Beaubourg, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. The Left Bank (Rive Gauche) evokes a Bohemian and intellectual atmosphere with its artist communities, cafés, restaurants, jazz clubs, and hip boutiques.

The Sophomore Year

In fall of sophomore year students complete the Cultural and Social Foundations sequences with Cultural Foundations III and Social Foundations III, which brings their study of world traditions into the present.  In spring, students learn sophisticated methods of cultural analysis  in a concentration-specific Approaches course and explore a particular theme in global study in a wide variety of Global Topics courses.  Both seminars are small, discussion-based, and writing intensive, with an emphasis on independent research.  By the end of the sophomore year, students will also normally have completed their Science and Quantitative Reasoning requirements, Global Cultures, and an intensive language course in preparation for the junior year of international study, as well as advisor approved electives.  (The balance of these courses a student takes in first and second year depends on the site at which they begin, advanced placement credits, and other such factors).

Language Study

GLS has a language study requirement as well as a language proficiency requirement. Students must both attain proficiency through at least the intermediate level and study in the language of their junior year site during each semester at the site; in addition, students must have proficiency through the beginning level (normally courses I/II in a sequence, which may be taught in a single intensive semester) before studying at an international site. Thus, a student who does not speak the language of the junior year site host country will be expected to take at least one semester of the appropriate intensive language course before the junior year; one year of the language if it is not offered in intensive format. But regardless of the level of prior fluency, study of the site language must continue in each semester of the junior year as well. Students who already have some level of proficiency in the language of the junior year site will take a placement test and either continue language study at a higher level (for example, in an advanced grammar class and one conversation class) or take one higher level language instruction class and one class taught in the language of the host country. Student who already have advanced or near-native proficiency will take two classes during the junior year taught in the language of the host country. Fluency is established by testing out of the intermediate level (normally, level IV) in the language department's placement test.

The Junior Year

The junior year of international study is a unique feature of the Global Liberal Studies B.A.   The junior year experience is integrated closely into students’ academic careers.  Students don't just study at an international  site -- the site itself becomes an important subject of study.  Experiential learning, Advanced Global Cultures, and language courses immerse students in the history and contemporary culture of the site, while simultaneously exploring its connection with larger global networks.  Upon return, students join a concentration-specific Senior Colloquium where they use advanced research techniques to complete a senior thesis that builds on the understanding of global issues inspired by the junior year.

The Senior Year

During senior year students take advanced Capstone Seminars that focus on specialized issues in global study and a full-year Senior Colloquium/Thesis course in which they conduct high-level independent research with extensive feedback from other seniors in their concentration and close supervision by the course instructor. part of the thesis project.  Students often use the four electives normally available to them during senior year to complete a minor or second major or to begin work in a B.A./M.A. program.  Students also represent their educational achievements in an innovative and reflective electronic portfolio that they maintain throughout their four years in Global Liberal Studies and take with them when they graduate.